Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Diggin’ Daniel

Last week, we were able to spend a few days with Paul’s parents while we were between meetings.  The kids spent a lot of time gathering eggs and feeding the chickens.  The chickens are largely free-range, so they like to eat grubs and worms.  After finding this out, the kids were all about digging worms and grubs out of the garden area (since no plants were still growing there, this was actually okay).  At any given point in the day, you could find at least one of the kids with a shovel in hand and a bucket full of worms close by.

Daniel was cracking us up as he dug.  The shovel was taller than he was, and he hefted if while huffing and puffing, and occasionally stopping to say, “Whew!”  He actually found several worms, to his great delight.


Every kid needs to be able to get down and dig in the dirt for worms.  It builds character or something like that! :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Simple Pleasures

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather-you know, the whole cough/cold thing.  It has been coming on gradually, since the children had it last week.  The other day, I went to my friend Esther’s house to help her with her chores.  She and her husband raise calves from the local dairies and house them until they are old enough to become a benefit to the dairy industry.  Those little cows are so adorable!  We emptied and refilled the milk and water bottles, feed buckets, and had a fun time together doing the work.  Sorry I don’t have a picture.  My hands were full of wheelbarrow when I wasn’t driving the water truck. 

Well, in addition to my cough, the wheelbarrow toting got to me last night.  I just felt a little sore in my low back muscles.  I decided that I needed a little bit of pampering.  After getting the children settled into their school routine this morning, I headed into the bathroom for a long, luxurious soak in a tub full of coconut lime verbena bubbles.   Ahhh!

I was able to relax and ease all those tense muscles (undisturbed, for all you incredulous mothers out there) and come out feeling like a mostly new me!  Thank goodness for hot running water!  And bubble bath! :)

On the stove, a pot of hearty vegetable soup is simmering, ready for lunch.  I love soup on a cold day, and believe me, the days in South Dakota are definitely chilly right now!  So I am looking forward to a very healthy, yummy meal!


Here is my recipe if this makes you want some, too!  It is super easy, and you can customize it with your favorite vegetables.

Hearty Vegetable Soup

1-46oz. can of tomato juice

1 can light red kidney beans, drained

1 can black beans, drained (you can also use dried beans, but they must be soaked first)

1 bag frozen cut carrots

1 bag frozen cut green beans

1/2 bag frozen pearl onions

1 lb. ground meat, browned (I used ground sirloin this time, but I usually use venison)

Put all ingredients into a large pot and let simmer until well heated.  You can also do this in the crock pot, which makes for a lot less supervision. 

You could substitute  or add other ingredients such as rice, potatoes, corn, your own home-grown veggies, etc.  There is no wrong way to make this delicious soup!  I like the carbs in my soup to be beans, since they have protein as well.  Potatoes are one of my favorite foods, but they, alas, are not as healthy for me, so I have eliminated them from this particular dish.  There is so much other yummy goodness in it though, that I don’t really miss them!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chop, Chop!

For some time, I have been trying to decide what I want to do with Esther’s hair.  It has always been fine and not as thick as either mine or her sister’s hair.  It used to be so frowsy that I despaired of ever getting it to lay straight instead of sticking out all over her poor little head!  In recent years, she has aspired to have hair “as long as Abigail’s.”  It really began to grow, and although it is beautiful and silky, it is still rather thin and prone to tangles-especially when she drags it through her plate at mealtime.  Sigh.  Tangles=tears, you know.

She has been after me for a while to cut her hair “so it won’t get food in it.”  I hesitated to cut it though, because I was afraid she would recant her decision and there would be more tears.  Hair takes a long time to grow!  I wanted to cut it though, because I know how cute she looks with short hair.  It is also so much easier to care for it. 

I finally bit the bullet and decided that I would cut it while I had the opportunity.  I had to give Paul a haircut, so why not cut hers as well?  I was really nervous, since I am not really a professional stylist.  I have cut lots of hair in the past, but these have been people who know how to sit still!  :)

Here are the results of my chop job.



Getting it wet first really helps.


The first chop is the scariest!


I tried to layer the edges a bit so it wasn’t just a blunt cut straight across.  The edging gives it a little more shape and body.  I’m not very good at this part, so my perfectionistic self was freaking out while I chipped and chopped.  She held pretty still for the most part, but kept asking if we were done yet!  No pressure!

So out of this process we got:

1.  A little more hair-cutting experience

2.  A donation for Locks of Love (we just barely made the 10 inch minimum)

3.  Most importantly, we have one very pleased little girl.



Does anyone else cut their family member’s hair?  Any good tips?  I tried looking online, but really didn’t find what I needed, so I flew by the seat of my proverbial pants.  I ended up pretty satisfied with the overall results, but next time, I want it to do it better!  Always upward, you know! :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Egg Hunting

One of the most entertaining things to do at Papa and Grandma’s farm is to gather the eggs from the multitude of chickens.  Gathering eggs can be used as leverage to speed along any unpleasant task, such as school, school, and more school. :)  Seriously – the kids look forward to the daily egg hunts, as well as feeding the chickens grubs and table scraps. Yech!  I am quit content to stand back and take pictures.  :)


These are a few of the cherished pets on the farm. 


Just outside of one of the chicken coops, they were all gathered to feed the chickens and snatch their eggs. :)


This little Barred Rock chicken was quite fascinated by my clicking camera.  She kept getting so close it couldn’t focus.  Definitely not camera shy, this one.


All in all, we had a good haul.  Fresh eggs for breakfast and baking, not to mention all the fun we had gathering them!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tooth Fairy

Well, not that business has been slow around our house for the Tooth Fairy, but she has a new customer.  Yes, my baby Esther has lost her first tooth!  She was so excited when she noticed it was loose.  She came shouting down the stairs in a manner more suitable for the house being afire. However, that is her way – everything is extreme! :)

Two weeks later, the tooth was out.  She didn’t even flinch when I pulled it out!  And the grin I got afterward was so adorable!  I guess we will have another snaggle-toothed kid around the house!


<--  Okay – I know you cannot really see the missing tooth (bottom right), but this picture was too good to resist!   You can see her tonsils as well!  They are lookin’ good! :)



Guess the Tooth Fairy needs to get another job so she doesn’t go bankrupt!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cupcake Wars

One of the most fun things ever is cupcake decorating.  Who doesn’t love cute, creative things to eat?  During one of our recent meetings, the teen girls had an activity. Cupcake wars!  Well, sort of!  It was really just a huge cupcake decorating party!  I was not only allowed to participate in the decorating, I was asked to give a short devotional.  I really enjoyed the time that I was able to spend with these girls. 

They really got creative with the cupcakes once they got started.  Here are some of the designs we ended up with.




There were even enough for my girls to decorate a cupcake – total delight for each of them!


I am a firm believer in quality time with my children – this definitely qualifies! :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cabin in the Woods

Since we are traveling without our trailer for several weeks (did I tell the whole trailer repair/insurance saga?) some friends of ours gave us the use of their cabin in “the big woods” of northern Minnesota for a week between our meetings.  It had a twofold purpose – it got us out of their house and hair for the week, and we got a family vacation (it may have been our first ever, now that I think of it)!  Now there are some who would say that an evangelist is on a perpetual vacation, but that is only because they have not traveled with four children and a seemingly endless supply of deadlines.  We have managed to see some great things in our travels, but it is far from what anyone would call a vacation!  So, since that particular myth has now been busted, I will continue with my original story. :)

We had the run of a lovely little cabin far from everywhere in Talmoon, MN.  The leaves had just passed their peak, and the weather was cool, but still very nice.  We just sat around after school each day and played games, did jigsaw puzzles, and enjoyed a week without deadlines.  We even had some snow!



The cabin was situated on Lake Big Too Much (okay, I thought that was a very funny name), so we were able to see the lovely water each day.  The days were mostly overcast, but this particular day was sunny, so I took the opportunity to take a few scenic photos.



Altogether, it was a very relaxing time, and we are grateful to our friends for allowing us to use their cabin in the woods. 

What is your favorite vacation memory?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pinterest Projects

Okay, I will admit that I have been a member of Pinterest for quite some time, but I don’t really get on very often, nor do I know how to navigate the site very well.  However, I did find a few projects that I wanted to attempt.  I pinned them on my board, and decided to do them as soon as possible. So, last week, after seeing so many spray paint projects, I decided to take on this metal folding chair.  It was just a plain, dull, metal chair, and I am planning to create a whole collection of brightly painted folding chairs for when we have company.  This is my first attempt.


It was a learning experience for me, having never done something like this before, but really, how difficult could it be, right?  So, this is the almost-finished product.  Due to my inexperience, it really could use another coat of paint, but I will have to buy another can.  :(  I used Krylon in a Watermelon shade, and I love the color!  It is definitely a “girl” chair!  I’m thinking canary yellow, lime green, aqua, light pink, and orange for starters.  Whadda ya think?

I know there are tons of other projects for me to do, but I enjoyed giving some new life to this tired old chair.  Look out!  I have discovered the great decorative qualities of spray paint!

Do you Pinterest?  Do you have any fun, easy projects?  I already have great plans for a Christmas wreath for my door.  Maybe I will share that later…

Friday, October 5, 2012

October Days

We are on the trail again, after several months of being in Mississippi.  It has been an epic trip, with us traveling all the way to Minnesota!  It was a long drive, but we were able to break up the trip with a stop in Missouri, where we saw some college friends.  I always enjoy our infrequent visits with college friends. 

Paul is participating in a men’s retreat this weekend, and I am going to be part of a teen girls’ activity: Cupcake Wars!  I think this weekend will be exciting for all of us! 

The weather here is quite a bit cooler than the weather in MS, and I was delighted to see that we are here in the beginning of the fall color.  We have some fall foliage in MS, but nothing makes brilliant color like the extreme northern temperatures.  The days are cool, and the nights cooler, but the skies are blazing blue, and the contrast of the leaves is breathtaking!

I took the kids outside yesterday to get a few pictures.  That went as well as it ever does, with as many chin shots, closed eyes, open mouths, and weird looks as usual.  I was persistent, though, and ended up with a few good shots.


This was the best of the group shots.  Love the nose wrinkle, Josiah.  Also love that squinty, cheesy face, Abigail.  They are both classic


This is my not-so-little-anymore man.  Love his sweetness.


Little Miss Mischief – I’m afraid she is very much like her mother… :)


Here is the little Pixie-Pie.  What a sweet thing she is!


And the Munchkin Man – he is ornery beyond belief.  Can’t you just see the little boy-ness just oozing out of him?


Just a few pictures of the kids enjoying the farm animals, and the lovely weather. 


Hope you all enjoy your fall weather!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Vintage Tins

I like vintage things, especially if they are practical and useful.  I am not in the habit of collecting junque just because it comes from a certain era.  I suppose that comes from living in a 36’ travel trailer with five other people.  You just learn to live with the necessities and longingly glance at the “pretties” as you walk past them in the Goodwill, flea markets, and yard sales. 

Mwahahahaha!  Now I have a house!  Look out!  I am on the prowl for those perfect items that will both meet a need and be that perfect piece of eye candy, too.  Not long ago, I found a whole set of vintage kitchen tins at the Goodwill for only $4.  I already had a set of round vintage tins in my kitchen, which I absolutely adore, but with the special food needs of some of our family members, I have more than the usual variety of flours, sugars, and other staples.  I debated on whether or not to get this set of square tins, but in the end, they not only went into my cart, they went home with me.  I love them, too!  I set them on the other end of the counter, and they look as if they have always been there.



I already posted this picture of my kitchen, but you can see again how nice the tins look on the end of my counter.  The round tins, along with my blue glass canning jars are on the other side of the stove.  A thing of beauty is a joy forever… Ahhhh.

Monday, October 1, 2012

School Room

I have long desired a room that is totally dedicated to home-schooling.  For years, we have used the table to get the homework finished.  I hated clearing off the school books to make room for lunch, then clearing off the lunch dishes to make room for school books, and so on.  In our Indiana home, we had a schoolroom in the basement.  It was rather cold in the winter, but it was open and well-lit, so we made it work.  I got used to not having to shuffle books and dishes several times a day, and it spoiled me!  :)

In the trailer, we do not really have an option – everyone has to squeeze in at the table.  A school room was on my list of “wants” for our new home.  It kept trying to scootch over to the “needs” column, but I kept shoving it back, somewhat reluctantly, I must admit!

The Lord was so good to give us a “bonus room” that we can dedicate to our school needs.  I am so grateful!  So, here are the before and after pictures of this wonderful world of learning!


This was the bonus room as we first saw it.  The walls were painted a neutral beige, but were so full of holes and punctures, that we had to do some serious patching on the drywall.  That meant we had to repaint, too.  There was a wallpaper border around the top, rather appropriate for our purposes, with the whole “library” look, but since I am not the world’s biggest wallpaper fan, I decided that it would have to go as well.  You can see in this picture the nice, spacious closet – a huge plus in my opinion (this house has the nicest closets, and lots of them).  The floor was bare plywood, but other than that, it was in pretty good condition. 

I painted this room my lovely Seamist and we had new carpet installed in the entire upstairs (and in the downstairs bedrooms).  Along with a fresh coat of white trim, it gave the room an entirely new look. 


I was so excited when I found a giant white board at a local consignment shop.  It was a high-quality, 4’x6’ board with a marker trayand it was only $24!  Paul helped me hang it, and it really adds to our classroom instruction!  Over in the corner is our “children’s library,” a collection of books that I have gathered over the years.  They range from my childhood favorites to solid classic children’s literature.  I always encourage my children to read good books – it helps to develop the mind!


Right now, this is where we spend a great deal of time each day.  Since it is such a great part of our lives, I wanted it to be a relaxing, serene atmosphere, too.  I feel that I have accomplished that to a small degree.  Later, I plan to add some pictures of great American landmarks that we have visited as a family.  My ideas are boundless, but so are my pressing priorities, so the photos may have to wait a while! :)